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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  October 2, 2010 12:00am-12:30am PDT

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tavis: good evening from los angeles. first up, a conversation with michael hirsh. his latest book is a critical assessment of the cozy relationship between wall street and washington, a relationship that seems to flourish under both republicans and democrats. his timely new book is called " capital offense." also a conversation with nancy brinker, founder and ceo of susan g. komen for the cure. she is out with a new memoir called "promise me." that is coming up right now. >> all i know is his name is james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james.
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>> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide is proud to join tavis in improving financial literacy and removing obstacles to economic empowerment. >> ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: michael hirsh is the former national economics -- his new book is called "capital offense, how washington's
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wiseman turned america's future over to wall street's." he joins us tonight from washington. >> thanks for having me. tavis: let me start by asking who these wise men are that you are referring to. >> i was inspired to write this book in the fall of 2008 went along with the markets, i watched some of the greatest reputations of our time crash to the earth. of course, chief among them were men like alan greenspan, the federal reserve chairman, robert rubin, the former treasury secretary, and others who we had lionized in the 1990's as masters of the game, masters of wall street and global lost finance. now all the sudden what once looked good did not look so good. wiseman is obviously used tongue-in-cheek. tavis: how did they go from
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being the masters of the economy, masters of predicting the future, to being so on wise so quickly? or maybe not so quickly. >> well, it seemed quick, but in actuality, it really was over a few decades, going back to the reagan revolution and proceeding through the clinton administration, when they got a couple of really big things wrong. there were good at crises without realizing that some of these crises, including some that happened in the 1990's, were precursors of the financial crisis we suffered in 2008. they involved just deregulation of the financial markets, to the point where no one was watching. but the time these trillions of dollars in over-the-counter derivatives went bad, there was
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no longer any regulation or oversight of them. we suddenly realized that all of this wonderful deregulation was not working out. tavis: in your book you do a good job of tracking this back to be regulation during the clinton years, which raises the obvious question, why it didn't president obama, why would he bring in some of the same people who are there during the planned deregulation years? >> that is a very good question. obama obviously is a very smart guy. as water resources said to me, he did not one -- run for present -- as one of my sources said, he did not run for president to fix derivatives. dealing with the health care issue, nuclear disarmament, i think he was just love to get up to speed on this. he had people like larry summers
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and tim geithner and saw them as crisis managers. they could come in and fix the problem without fully appreciating that they were in some ways the authors, partially, of this crisis. tavis: last not we got a chance to talk a bit about this with the former labor secretary. now that the president gets a chance to reshape his economics team, christina roemer already back in california, peter orszag now writing for "the new york times." how should he reshape his economic team, given what we are up against right now? >> frankly i would hope that the president does the opposite of some of the advice he is getting right now, which hiring a ceo to
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come in and run economic canceled if the council to take larry summers place, i think he has been relatively easy on wall street. my view would be, i think he should go ahead and do what i thought he should have done a couple of years ago and hire a guy like paul volcker, who is a legend in his own time, and was quite prescient about the problems with the regulation of the financial sector. if not him, then other progressive voices who saw the problems before they developed. none of these people was hired by this administration, and i think it is not too late for president obama to think about hiring them. tavis: how much of the mess we are in right now has to do with the white house's deference to wall street? >> it has a huge amount to do with it. going back to ronald reagan, five presidents have found it politically expedient and
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economically wise to defer to wall street. one of my favorite characters in my story is paul o'neill, who was george w. bush's first treasury secretary. he left washington under a cloud. people made fun of him because he was not robert rubin. he was extremely wary of wall street'. wall street continues to have the whip hand over the way we look at the economy and the way ceo's see their compensation packages, employee welfare. is all dictated by wall street, and frankly, after two years of this crisis with this giant new law that was passed last summer, we have not seen very much restructuring. tavis: earlier in the conversation you suggested that the phrase wise men was a bit tongue in cheek. i asked whether the notion that our future has been turned over to wall street, whether that is
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tongue-in-cheek or whether that is real. >> sadly, i think it is real. it is not like there are good things in good people involved in this picture. -- not like there are not good things and good people involved in this picture. harvard law professor is going to set up this consumer protection bureau. someone described her to me as one of the few people in the obama administration who does not have bob rubin on her speed dial. that means she is not part of this team that deregulated the financial markets in the 1990's. tavis: she does not have our group and honors be doll perhaps, but the president and the white house did ultimately reject does not have bob rubin on her speed dial but they did structure this deal for her.
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you know the politics, they did that because they did not what -- did not think it was wise to take this fight to the hill to get her confirmed, so let's dig into that. what does it say about what they think is important if you are not going to fight for the person to run the agency recommended, and it is financial reform has any teeth in it, it rests with this agency, and that is the one thing that nobody in the white house thought they could go to capitol hill and fight for. how am i supposed to read all this? >> your point is well taken. i agree that this financial protection bureau is certainly one of the biggest things in this bill. the deference to the republicans and centrist democrats on the hill that obama receives are going to oppose elizabeth warren, i think that happened a little too quickly. this goes back to the larger point. i think president obama just did
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not fully appreciate how deep and systemic this crisis really was. seven like this does not just happen in a few years because of the subprime mortgage bubble. something this huge that affected every major wall street firm to the point where none of their ceo's even knew what was being traded under their own noses, is much more systemic and goes back decades. frankly, the president needed to spend a lot more time focused on this. he was always off doing something else. health care is an important issue, but did he have to do it his first year when he had this huge economic crisis? pitbull thought he was going to turn out to be the next fdr and -- people thought he was going to turn out to be the next fdr and we would get a new deal. there was a lot of outrage out there. getting back to your point, the deference to capitol hill, the way he sneaks elizabeth warren
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in the side door was saying she is going to be my adviser but i will not but to get her confirmed, obama trust to continue to win a middle path that is satisfying no one, frankly. tavis: let me ask you what the average everyday american is supposed to think when they hear the wise men now tell them that the recession is over. >> obviously, very few people feel like it is over. even most economists agree that what we are in now is kind of a growth recession and that the economy is growing, but too slowly to replace those jobs. we need to get up to 3% growth to start to generate new growth. we have 9.6% unemployment. a lot of things are still going wrong, and this goes back to the same point. the stimulus was not large enough.
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the obama administration underestimated what would be needed. they did not use all of their political capital to fight for larger stimulus and allowed themselves to get diverted to other issues. i think the president at this point, midway through his term, has to really focus 100% on the tavis: is. michael hirsh is the author of a new book. good to have you on the program. >> thank you very much. tavis: up next, nancy brinker, founder and ceo of susan g. komen for the cure. stay with us. as we kick off breast cancer awareness month 2010, i am pleased ticket welcome and to render to the program. she was awarded the presidential medal of freedom by president barack obama. she did it now has a critically
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acclaimed memoir called "promise me." first of all, thank you, i am glad to have on the program. >> thank you, tavis. it is very nice to be here. tavis: people all over the world are so pleased with the work that susan g. komen for the cure is doing. we now have nfl players wearing pink shoes. [laughter] have you been able to take this message -- obviously there is a lot more to be done, but you all have done a wonderful job of branding the message and the pink ribbons, and is just such a wonderful journey. >> i am a little more senior than you. i grew up in a generation or pogo was the greatest threat in our world, in america at the time -- polio was the greatest
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threat. i watched our country mobilize against the disease. then as i grew up and understaood how to do marketing, i had a lot of good mentors. people were so afraid to talk about breast cancer when susie was diagnosed, and when she died and asked me to do this, i realize the only way to deliver really conventional messages about breast cancer western products and things people were doing. that really gave birth to cause related marketing in this country. also the race for the cure and other events that we have. our job is to celebrate hope and give people a vision for the future, not to tell people you are going to die from this. that is pretty much what wanted to do when i was asked to write the book. tavis: i love this picture of
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you and your sister suzie. it has been 30 years since she made her this promise that you would spend the rest of your life doing this. tell me about susie. >> she was so fabulous. she was three years older than i. she was a beautiful, funny, wonderful, generous human being. she was always doing for other people. she was a little shy, and she knew i was the enforcer of the family. we had a curfew, and that would be really mad when she came in late. it was my job to convince him that his watch was broken. [laughter] so every single thing, i was the enforcer of almost everything in the family. we had this amazing bond. sometimes sisters are lucky enough to have that. we were best friends. tavis: i am laughing, thinking you were in ambassador training as a 3-year-old.
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your job is to convince people of things they don't want to be convinced of. when you made the promise 30 years ago, you started out honoring that promise in what way? >> i did not know what i was going to do. when you promise someone who is dying and you love with all your heart, and they ask you to into a disease, and i was about 32 at the time. i had no idea what i was going to do, no idea. i really had to use all my marketing background to think, this is a cultural change in this country that we need. there is no patient advocacy. you did not talk about breast cancer out loud. you called it a big c. how are you going to in the disease when people were afraid to talk about it? it was not considered attractive or it was not considered the thing to do, to talk about cancer out loud.
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people were afraid they would die, and in many cases they did. the five-year survival rate for early breast cancer in those days was 74%. today is almost 98%. but susie had very advanced breast cancer, which does happen to a lot of people. so i dedicated my life to answering the promise to her. we win on this journey together, and it was sad. all up and down, she did not think the color of your skin should make any difference in how you were treated. just like the polio vaccine. tavis: and yet we know 30 years later that is still not the case. >> there is a very real and form of breast cancer called triple-
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and many people from certain cultures and backgrounds have a lot. then we have inflammatory breast cancer. susan g. komen for the cure has funded more private research than any government. i am very proud of the advances we are making, but they are slow, and they are too slow for people like cheryl. we are seeing people live for many years with advanced disease. tavis: cheryl flowers was the only executive producer i ever had on my radio program. she was a young black woman who died at the young age of 42 after battling a few years with a cancer called triple-breast cancer. everything i do with regard to radio, we always dedicated to cheryl because she fought so valiantly with that disease. what has happened, aside from
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the fact that cancer seems to strike everybody, is there reason beyond that why the message resonates now more than it did 30 years ago? >> so many people die from diseases they did not know about. but also, it has increased. looking at colleges and looking at ways to prevent, -- looking at causes. we cannot afford to treat all the late stage cancer. the world is aging, and there are other factors. hereditary factors, it could be things we are eating and in jesting that is causing this in so many women. i think that we have a chance of a lifetime in the next five or six years to pull out of all that science and jump over some
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of the hurdles and regulatory agencies to have some new approaches to keep these people live. tavis: since we last talked, this controversy erupted yet again about mammograms and whether or not they are necessary, whether you should do them at uncertain age or with a certain frequency. i don't know what the answer is any more on mammograms. >> this is a 50-year-old technology. it is not that we need less screening, it is that we need better screening and more of it. we need screening that is faster, more accessible, more predictive, and portable and easy to use. we have that technology today. that technology exists, and those processes exist to make that happen. it is political will. that is why we advocate so hard by state, cities, and even globally, because we know this
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technology exists. needs to be developed. digital mammography is a lot better today, but we need better techniques. tavis: you have worked for and were appointed ambassador by the first president bush. republicans and democrats like you. you see president obama on the screen giving you the highest civilian honor in the country, the presidential medal of freedom. i raised that point because your work is non-partisan, and yet this health care reform is obviously a very big issue. it is in part driving what is going to happen in the november elections. i raise that to ask how this performs as it is now structured, how it will impact
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women having access -- >> we have already gone to the mat making sure we have legislation that works on health care reform to make sure that those things don't happen, and yet this is where people have to be very vigilant. this is a broad based reform package. it is not specific in many ways. it is open for interpretation for a lot of people. there are state regulations. there is going to be a lot of confusion in working all this out, and we at susan g. komen are really leading the way in having the backs of breast cancer patients. we want to make sure that not only is it accessible but that is affordable and timely. if you or a low resource woman and you have a mammogram and you get a biopsy and there are days and months go by between treatments, what good is that? we can, for early breast cancer
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-- we can conquer early breast cancer. tavis: everybody knows the name susan g. komen and the pink ribbons. has been branded wonderfully well. tell me what susan g. komen does with the financial support people give to the organization. >> we have affiliate's in 120 cities throughout america. their single task is to make sure they do needs assessment in their community. they find treatments screening and education programs in their community. basically focused too low resource people. the 20 by presents other returns to the national foundation is were refined cutting edge research -- the 25% that returns to the national foundation. the rest of it goes for community outreach and care across all cultures. no other breast cancer organization has this broadcast
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our reach. you cannot cure the disease in the laboratory alone. breast cancer is a different disease in many populations. tavis: the work of susan g. komen continues, but what do you think susie would say now, 30 years later? >> i think she would be really proud, because this organization looks like turkey is our region, israel, its mission oriented. -- it is regional, it is real, it is mission oriented. we have to take care of the women of today and make sure they get the treatment they need. tavis: so she would still be pushing you. the memoir is by ambassador nancy brinker, it is called " promise me."
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i do not often editorialize around here, but whenever anybody tells you that one person cannot make a difference, think of all the pink ribbons everywhere because yea one woman had promised to her sister that she would dedicate her life to saving the lives of other women. thank you for coming on. that is our show for tonight. i will see back here next time on pbs. until then, good night, thanks for watching, and as always, keep the faith. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at tavis: join me next time for preview of the midterms one month before election day. plus actor sam rockwell. that is next time. we will see you then. >> all i know is his name is
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james, and he needs extra help with his reading. >> i am james. >> yes. >> to everyone making a difference, you help us all live better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide is proud to join tavis in improving financial literacy and removing obstacles to economic empowerment. >> ♪ nationwide is on your side ♪ >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] captioned by the national captioning institute >> we are pbs. >> we are pbs.
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